Scouting the cornerbacks
1. Darqueze Dennard
Michigan State, 5-101⁄2, 199
Thorpe Award winner, Big Ten DB of the year and consensus All-American in Spartans' ‘No Fly Zone' secondary. Excellent in press coverage and has 4.42 speed. Produced throughout three-year starting career. Visited Steelers.
2. Justin Gilbert
Oklahoma State, 5-11, 194
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said “he's tall, he's long, and he runs like crazy.” Seven INTs in ‘13; also had Big 12-record six kickoff return TDs. Eight career return TDs. Extremely talented and plays with confidence.
3. Bradley Roby
Ohio State, 5-11, 194
Visited Steelers. 40 time: 4.35. Physical, throws his body around. Eight career INTs. Overcame miserable first game of ‘13 after suspension. Past shoulder problems.
4. Kyle Fuller
Virginia Tech, 5-111⁄2, 190
Strong combine (4.43 in 40) set aside concerns over sports hernia surgery. Four-year starter. Three-time all-ACC pick. Played LB, S and ILB and OLB. Six career INTs.
5. Jason Verrett
TCU, 5-91⁄2, 189
Co-Big 12 defensive player of year. Height and offseason shoulder operation are worries. Broke up 36 passes in the past two seasons and has nine career INTs. Might be best suited to covering slot receivers.
6. Walt Aikens
Liberty, 6-01⁄2, 203
Gifted and underrated; made five starts at Illinois as non-redshirt freshman before being kicked off team after a theft incident. Great competitor who plays with confidence. Unpolished but good athlete; also played basketball and ran track.
7. Terrance Mitchell
Oregon, 5-11, 192
Started all but two of 40 college games; five INTs in ‘13. Slender and not as physical as top CBs are. Ran an unimpressive 4.61 in 40; could have trouble in man-to-man coverage.
8. Rashaad Reynolds
Oregon State, 5-91⁄2, 189
Started 38 consecutive games, making 10 INTs (6 in ‘13). Not a skilled run defender or tackler (he's a former high school QB). 40 time: 4.51. Makes up for smallish size with quickness.
9. Bashaud Breeland
Clemson, 5-11, 197
Was ejected versus Florida State for helmet-to-helmet hit on Heisman winner Jameis Winston. Prone to hesitation at times. Played little press coverage, but has good cover skills and plays with an attitude.
10. Keith McGill
Utah, 6-3, 211
Very raw; didn't start in D-I until ‘13, six years after last HS season. Former junior college player slowed by bad shoulder injury in ‘11 and ‘12. Excellent size and athletic ability (39-inch vertical jump) suitable to playing press coverage but will be 25 this season.
Best fit for Steelers
“He's a Steeler,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of Dennard. “Rough, tough, aggressive football player, plays with a chip on his shoulder, very good in coverage, plays faster than he timed.” But will they take him?
One to watch
Shaquille Richardson Arizona, 6-0, 194
He's not showing up on any top-10 lists, but he has good size and speed (4.43 in 40), and he made 10 career INTs despite not being a polished defender. Will require patience and good coaching. Visited with Steelers.
No Darrelle Revis in this group. K'Waun Williams (six INTs in final two seasons) of Pitt wasn't invited to the combine; runs the 40 in the 4.53 range and projects as a post-draft signee.